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Leonie Adams ( 1899 - 1988 )  Category ( Poets ) [suggest a correction]
 

United States Poet Laureate Leonie Adams was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. Her parents were particularly strict and she was not even allowed to ride the subway alone until she was eighteen years old. Even at that age of maturity her father insisted on accompanying her.

Upon high school graduation, she enrolled at Barnard College. One of her roommates was the future-famed anthropologist, Margaret Mead. As an undergraduate she quickly demonstrated great poetic skill and understanding of literature. Thus, her poetry was published and well-regarded at an early age. Her first volume of poetry was published in 1925, under the title of Those Not Elect.

Following college she had a brief affair with Edmund Wilson, considered by many as the greatest man of letters in the twentieth century. Adams next traveled abroad, staying in London and Paris. While she was in London, she met the poet H.D., who was impressed enough to introduce the young Adams to a number of prominent figures in the London literary scene. Gertrude Stein invited her to tea while she was in Paris.

Upon her return to New York, she worked as a lecturer on Victorian poetry at New York University. Her writing style was often compared to both the Romantic and the Metaphysical periods of literature. She once stated that "[It is] Lyric Poetry, in largely traditional forms. At [my] formative period [I was] influenced by Elizabethan, Early Romantic and, through Yeats largely, by Symbolist poetry...My work has been sometimes described as 'metaphysical' and sometimes as 'romantic.' It is perhaps some sort of fusion. Its images are largely from nature...and I have tended in my better work toward a contemplative lyric articulated by some sort of speech music."

In 1930, she met and in 1933 married a fellow teacher named William Troy. She taught English at a number of other colleges, including Bennington College, Douglass College, the University of Washington, the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, Columbia University, and Sarah Lawrence College. During her teaching years she served as a mentor to poet Louise Gluck. In 1950, the New Jersey College for Women awarded her an honorary doctorate. That honor came on the heels of a year spent as the Poet Consultant for the Library of Congress (Poet Laureate). In 1974, she was awarded an Academy Fellowship from the Academy of American Poets. Among her other awards include a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation, grants from the National Council of the Arts and the National Institute of Arts and Letters, as well as the Shelley Memorial Award.


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